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‘I was left absolutely speechless’

Simon Barrett ENGANL00120121128130724
Simon Barrett ENGANL00120121128130724

A group of bus users were left ‘appalled’ by the way the were spoken to by a leading councillor at Sudbury Town Council on Tuesday night.

Sandra Curtis from Sycamore Road in Great Cornard, attended the meeting to ask about the proposals for Sudbury bus station and raise concerns that it had not been adequately publicised .

Having waited for the entirety of the meeting for the public forum, she was shot down by Simon Barrett after asking why the exhibition had not been held in the bus station, or why posters were not put up there.

In response to Mrs Curtis’ question Mr Barrett replied: “Hey ho, maybe we’ve missed it. A lot of people have seen it. The fact you are here means you must have seen it yourself.”

Mr Barrett is the portfolio holder for growth and the local economy at Babergh District Council as well as being a Sudbury town councillor and chairman of the Sudbury Steering Group.

He explained the exhibition had been covered in the local media and on council websites, however, it was the way in which he spoke to Mrs Curtis that left members of the public upset.

After the meeting Mrs Curtis told the Free Press: “One of his colleagues apologised to me with how he spoke to me.

“He was very condescending to me, he spoke to me like I was an idiot.”

Her friend Frances Eves who was also present at the meeting said: “I was absolutely appalled. My friend waited all night to speak. She is diabetic, she missed her dinner for this.

“I’m absolutely speechless. It’s because we were questioning his authority.”

After Mr Barrett’s response town mayor Jack Owen said: “Well you’ve had your answer. I know how I feel about that.”

Mr Owen said the council would take note of the advice, saying posters would be put up in the bus station to make bus users aware of the exhibition for its last remaining days.

The exhibition at the town museum ends tomorrow at 4pm.

Eileen Murphy, who apologised to Mrs Curtis for Mr Barrett’s behaviour after the meeting, said: “I thought he was very rude to the poor lady.

“I asked if she was OK. I thought it was very rude and very arrogant. He had to be calmed down by Jan Osborne.

“He wasn’t listening to the people of Sudbury. All you have to do is listen, you don’t have to agree, you just have to listen.”

Speaking yesterday, Mr Barrett said: “I didn’t think I was rude. At the end of the day I didn’t intend to be rude I can just be a bit brisk. If that was the case I will apologise, I just wanted to get my message over.

“I can understand maybe we should have had posters up and we’ve done that now.

“Lot’s of people have been positive about the scheme. They [those opposed] may have their view but it’s not the only view, there are other people who like the scheme.

“I’ve got a little bit annoyed at people that think their view is the only one.

“I probably was a bit sharp with her. Sometimes we get a bit annoyed but I don’t intend to, I’m just passionate about it.”

Mr Barrett added that the exhibition had been well publicised and said the fact the council meeting was so well attended showed the message was getting out, adding he was glad there was a lot of debate over the subject.

The meeting was also a first chance to see draft plans for Belle Vue House and the former swimming pool site from Sudbury Community Estate, a community interest group set up to save the building from being demolished.

The group propose to split the site in three, with one part potentially housing a new surgery for the Hardwicke House Group Practice which had expressed a desire to expand and move from it’s premises in Stour Street, Sudbury.

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